En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 16, 2012

From: Abilene, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Identity of plant that smells like oranges in Alpine, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

There are patches of flat bushy like plants in lawn, smells like orange. Areas may be 10" and spreading, but when pulled has small root. How can I get rid of this plant and what is it?

ANSWER:

This sounds like one of the Crotons.  There are several species that occur in Brewster County and all have a characteristic odor, much like oranges, when the leaves are crushed.  The most likely one is Croton monanthogynus (Prairie tea).  Here are more photos and information from University of Texas School of Biological Sciences, Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension and from Missouri State University.

There are also:

Croton lindheimerianus (Threeseed croton).  Here are photos from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

Croton pottsii var. pottsii (Leatherweed)

Croton suaveolens (Scented croton)

Croton texensis (Texas croton)

Croton incanus (Torrey's croton).  Here are photos and more information from Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture.

Croton fruticulosus (Bush croton)

The best way to get rid of the plant is just what you have been doing—pull it up.  On the other hand, you might consider waiting until after it's dropped its seeds.  Crotons are often called doveweeds for their important role in providing essential forage for doves, quail and other ground-feeding birds.

If this isn't the plant you have in your lawn, take photos of it and then visit our Plant Identification page where you will find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Prairie tea
Croton monanthogynus

Leatherweed
Croton pottsii var. pottsii

Scented croton
Croton suaveolens

Texas croton
Croton texensis

Bush croton
Croton fruticulosus

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Native woodland plants for Benicia, California
May 20, 2009 - I am planting in raised beds around redwood trees, Japanese maples and rhododendrons in my backyard. I would like suggestions for native woodland plants to accompany my established plants. The area i...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Texarkana, TX
March 31, 2011 - I've been searching for a dependable list of attractive north east native plants, for gardens, landscaping, etc. Specifically, native flowers and shrubs.
view the full question and answer

Giant Thistle-Like Plant from Elgin, TX
June 01, 2014 - I have a giant thistle like plant in my field we have been unable to identify. It looks like a milk thistle but it is short..only about a foot tall..stocky...and the flowers are giant..about 6 to 8 i...
view the full question and answer

Color year round, welcome to Austin Texas.
December 04, 2011 - I am new to Austin and want to plant colorful flowers for fall and winter that get a "wow" reaction. I have not seen much at the local nurseries. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
view the full question and answer

killing clover in Bandera
March 19, 2016 - How may one kill clover while not killing native wild flowers in one's lawn?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center